HARTFORD, Conn. (CBSNewYork/AP)General Electric, one of the best known companies in corporate America, is moving its headquarters from suburban Connecticut to Boston, the company announced Wednesday.

The company said it chose Boston after a consideration of factors including the business ecosystem, quality of life for employees and connections with the world.

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“GE aspires to be the most competitive company in the world,” GE Chairman and CEO Jeff Immelt said. “Today, GE is a $130 billion high-tech global industrial company, one that is leading the digital transformation of industry. We want to be at the center of an ecosystem that shares our aspirations.”

Several states have been competing to lure the company from Fairfield, Connecticut, since GE announced in June that it was unhappy about legislative tax proposals and thinking about a move.

Connecticut’s General Assembly later passed a revised budget that scaled back some of the business-related tax increases after other companies including Aetna Inc. and the Travelers Companies Inc. criticized changes included in the state budget. But GE continued hearing pitches from other states as it said it was seeking a more business-friendly home.

The company employs about 5,700 people in Connecticut, including 800 at the Fairfield operation that has been its headquarters for four decades. It plans to move employees to a temporary location in Boston starting in the summer of 2016. The full move is expected to be completed in several steps by 2018.

State Sen. Tony Hwang, who represents Fairfield County, said the news is a “punch to the stomach.”

“What is extremely disappointing was the fact that Connecticut had many opportunities to retain an iconic company in our community,” Hwang told WCBS 880’s Fran Schneidau. “It is so symbolic of so many of other businesses that have cried out for change and help. I hope that we learn from this teachable moment that we need to change the way we do business in the State of Connecticut.”

Connecticut lobbied General Electric to stay put, but by early this week Gov. Dannel P. Malloy seemed resigned to GE making a change.

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“I think they’re going to do what they’re going to do, that’s what I think,” he said Monday. “I think they’ve said that they’re going to leave thousands of jobs in Connecticut one way or the other, which means they’re primarily talking about headquarters operations, which would be relatively small.”

But the move was seen as a blow to Connecticut’s business reputation by many at the state Capitol.
“We’ve got to make the environment here more attractive. I know that that doesn’t sound real sexy, but that’s the reality,” said Joe Brennan, CEO of the Connecticut Business and Industry Association.

The company said it had been considering the composition and location of its headquarters for more than three years, and its formal review began with a list of 40 potential locations in June.

GE said its new headquarters will be in the Seaport District of Boston. To offset the cost of the move the company said it will sell its offices in Fairfield and at Rockefeller Plaza in New York City.

GE Chairman and CEO Jeff Immelt said Wednesday that the Boston area has a diverse, technologically fluent workforce that fits with its aspirations.

According to Joe McGee, of the Fairfield County Business Council, the company is spending tens of millions of dollars on re-branding, and although the move is a big blow to the state, Connecticut remains the center of financial services talent.

“They’re saying GE is no longer your father’s GE, we’re about applications, we’re about computer applications, we’re about digital transformations,” McGee said.

McGee said that the state does need to move more quickly to incorporate technology into its businesses.

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